Nationwide Health Info Network Progress

Nationwide Health Information NetworkWith the release of a Request for Information (RFI) earlier this month, HHS signaled advancement of the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). According to, the network is a set of standards, services and policies that support trusted health information exchange nationwide. The RFI seeks public comment on NHIN governance, a requirement of the NHIN sponsoring legislation, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

NHIN objectives include sharing health information with patients and supporting both clinical decisions and public health initiatives. In 2009, the NHIN Trial Implementation launched among members of the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange, a collaborative of 27 public and private healthcare organizations. The Trial already supports exchange of the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER), an EHR implementation led by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The RFI seeks comment on draft governance mechanism proposals HHS is considering. The Federal Register entry for the RFI includes the following text (bullets added):

This RFI seeks broad input on a range of topics, including:

  • The creation of a voluntary program under which entities that facilitate electronic health information exchange could be validated with respect to their conformance to certain ONC-established “conditions for trusted exchange (CTEs);”
  • the scope and requirements included in the initial CTEs;
  • the processes that could be used to revise, adopt new, and retire CTEs, including but not limited to the standards development and adoption process provided in section 3004 and other relevant sections of the PHSA; and
  • a process to classify the readiness for nationwide adoption and use of technical standards and implementation specifications to support interoperability related CTEs

The RFI presents the draft governance mechanisms in hopes “that this level of detail will generate more specific and insightful comments and a more comprehensive dialogue.” RFI responses are due June 14.